I Hope They Name The Commission In Charge BOHICA

Hey, is it that time already?

A delegation of St. Louis business leaders spent much of Monday in the Quarterback Suite at this city’s new Lucas Oil Stadium, a fitting place to think about a big looming question for St. Louis: What to do with the Edward Jones Dome.

As everyone in the room was aware, the Rams will be free to leave their lease – and St. Louis – after 2015 if the stadium does not measure up among the top quarter of facilities in the NFL. Despite being just 15 years old, the Edward Jones Dome is not even close.

So ears perked up as some of the people behind Lucas Oil Stadium described their efforts to build the $1.1 billion, 63,000-seat downtown complex, and keep the Colts in Indianapolis. One thing everyone from Indy agreed on: Building a new stadium is going to cost public money.

Meanwhile, team officials cross their fingers behind their backs and promise to build a mixed use commercial and housing development called “Stadium Village” just as soon as they get done spending the public money on the stadium and its luxury boxes for the committeemembers who get it the government money.

Book Report: Trash to Treasure 2 by Leisure Arts, Inc. (1998)

Okay, okay, I said I didn’t like the first book of this series that I read (number 8 in the series), but here I am looking through another one.

Well, they’re quick and probably not entirely a waste of time.

Still, it’s heavy on the country kitsch that does not appeal to me (yet–give me a decade surrounded by fields and horses, and we might have a different aesthetic sense entirely–watch for the blog theme to be white and red checkerboard with stitches dividing the posts and sidebars).

Instead of the reliance on the aluminum cans, this book features a large number of projects that use the bottom of plastic food trays. I could see it. Maybe my children and I will make suncatchers sometime from them. Probably not.

Additionally, #8 recycles a project from this book: light bulb Christmas ornaments. Talk about using old things in a new way! Of course, if you’re going to do this, you probably want to do it while incandescent bulbs are legal.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Craftivity edited by Tsia Carson (2006)

This is a crafting book for the DIY lifestyle. It says so on the cover. In the introduction, the editor talks about how doing it yourself is part about getting off the grid, man, and freeing yourself from the institutions. Or something. One of the contributors, before showing how to put patterns in moss on rocks, laments that he could go to prison for spray painting someone’s property, but that someone blasted and chiseled a natural treasure and made Mount Rushmore and they call that a national monument.

So this is a crafting book for loft-dwelling latte suckers in Janeane Garafolo glasses. Personally, I’ll take the dowdy old lady craft books for their no-nonsense, make something but not a statement style.

That said, the book breaks it down into categories of different media, such as metal, wood, fabrics, and so on, so it runs the gamut of different craft styles. You can probably find something to do in the book. I’m thinking about painting using the glass in frames. I remember a kid did that in the gifted program in seventh grade. Surely I could do something equivalent to that.

The book wasn’t a waste of time by any means, but that idea above and, frankly, the tone of it are about all I remember of it. So buy yours by clicking below!

Books mentioned in this review:

Whose Individual Books Do You Remember Best?

I think I have a new metric for a good, lasting writer: how well can you remember the characters and plot from an author when someone simply mentions the title?

For example, if you mention Hamlet or Macbeth or any other Shakespeare play that I’ve read, I can remember the plot and some of the characters within it. If you mention a Dickens book, I can probably speak to it generally.

Now, about modern writers, my favorites are at a bit of a loss. When you mention Robert B. Parker, I can talk about the early books pretty well, but once you get past Pastime, they start to blur. John Sandford? Not hardly, although I’d try to bluff and say it was about a murderer who posed the bodies ritualistically. John D. MacDonald? Some of them, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. Raymond Chandler? I don’t think I could remember or explain a lot of Chandler’s plots if I’d just read them. Robert Heinlein? He wrote a lot of junior rocket jockey stuff that kind of blurs.

Stephen King, on the other hand, I can tell you the plots of It, Christine, The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, and so on and so forth.

Tom Clancy? You bet, although I’d be hard pressed to remember all the subplots and plot lines in Debt of Honor, but I remember the bit about the quality problem at the auto plant.

I think that the size of the oeuvre matters, as an author with fewer books will have more memorable books, or at least fewer books to confuse. Relevant titles help, too, which really hurts modern series authors who title their books similarly so readers will know the book belongs to a series.

So what do you think? Of whom you’ve read widely, whom do you recollect the individual novels the best? And do you think this is a mark of an author who will be widely read and regarded as a classical author in centuries to come?

Book Report: Brother Odd by Dean Koontz (2006)

I savaged the preceding book in the series, Forever Odd, when I read it in 2007. Why the gap? I didn’t like the predecessor so much, and I had a hard time finding this book at book fairs. I finally found one without a dustjacket and read it.

I liked this one better than Forever Odd. The voice didn’t great on me as much, but I think Koontz better interspersed the narrator voice with action and interaction with other characters this time around. I seem to recollect Odd spent a lot of time alone in Forever Odd.

In this book, Odd is living in a monastery in the Sierra Nevada mountains, trying to rest and trying to help the spirit of a brother who committed suicide to move on. As such, he has a special skeleton key that allows him all access to the grounds of the monestary and of the abbey and school for the disabled next door. Bodachs start appearing, which means bloodshed is imminent, so Odd and the brothers and sisters have to investigate why and to protect the children from a devilish creation of bones.

I enjoyed reading this book and looked forward to sitting down and reading it at night. I’ve spent a couple weeks where I haven’t looked forward to the nightly reading, which probably explains the recent dearth of book reports hereabouts. But when I get that way, I always end up reading a book that refreshes that hunger for the printed word within me. It’s probably as much biorhythms as Dean Koontz, but there you go.

Books mentioned in this review:

My Personal Charitable Giving Is Down

TaxProf points out that charitable giving dropped last year:

Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University today announced today that charitable contributions fell 3.6% (3.2% inflation-adjusted) in 2009, to $303.75 billion.

Personally speaking, my charitable contributions have dropped slightly (although not 3.6%, probably) as I have redirected small checks from charitable organizations to Republican candidates and the RNC and its committees.

Because if I’m going to have any to spare for donations in the future, the government is going to have to change.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

I Read California’s Future In Its Past

California voters approved an open primary system yesterday.

Lots of people are gnashing their teeth about it (see Ace and Bookworm).

I’d gnash a little more if a similar initiative hadn’t already been struck down in California in 2006.

I’m no constitutional scholar, but what I read of the opinion in the settled case–that the blanket primary takes away the parties’ right of association–doesn’t seem solved in the new proposition. I don’t see any comparisons between the two laws, so I could be mistaken. I wish someone would enlighten me how this could pass Constitutional muster.

Or are the proponents hoping that a Supreme Court with a different makeup will rule differently in a couple of years?

What Dana Said: More Advice for the Tea Party

Dana Loesch has a long piece about the Tea Party activists and somber reflections the day after several primaries did not swing the Tea Partiers’ way.

Here’s my contribution:

If you really want to change the GOP to reflect smaller government, conservative principles, you had better get over any instant gratification/revolutionary impulse you have. This is politics. Sometimes the votes go your way, sometimes they don’t, but if you give up and go home when things don’t go your way, the entrenched interests within the party won’t take you seriously and won’t listen to you. That old greybeard whose “turn” it is to run? He’s attended meetings, held party office, hosted fundraisers, and contributed to the local party for 30 years. He’ll be here in 2010, 2012, 2014. If you’re only going to be here in spring and summer of 2010, what impact will you make beyond what he has done for a lot of candidates for a long time? You’re a pup, albeit a loud member of a pack of pups.

If you want to change the GOP, you’d better get your arse to the local party meetings, to the local fundraisers, and to the local campaign offices of candidates you support. Politics is work, not a hobby. If you want change, you have to work for it, not just tailgate at a semi-annual protest.

So Crazy It Just Might Work

Embattled Florida Governor Charlie Crist has left the Republican Party and his senses (two different things) in his bid to become a Senator for the state of Florida by any means necessary. He’s shedding his conservative followers by shredding his conservative principles, and no one thinks he’s much of a man anymore. Except him, maybe.

However, I’ve got the only strategy that remains for him to get elected: Make people confuse him with New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Charlie Crist. Chris Christie. It could work.

Book Report: Viets Guide to Sex, Travel, and Anything Else That Will Sell This Book by Elaine Viets (1993)

Wow, it’s been over a year since I read Viets’ Urban Affairs, which is a good thing. It means I’m not obsessed with her. I am developing a little crush on her through these collections, though.

As with the previous collection, this book collects her columns from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the introduction, she mentions that this collection is uncensored; as far as I could tell, the only impact I saw was one instance of a synonym for excrement that appeared on someone’s shirt.

I don’t know if the columns are timeless, but I lived in the era in which they were written near the city where they were written, so I like them. Sadly, I think I’ve run out of Viets’s collected columns and will have to start on her fiction when/if I find some.

Books mentioned in this review:

Another Government “Cut” that Costs More

In time of a recession, bonuses come under fire for some government pension plan employees. No problem: the pension system will just give them raises instead:

Most employees at the Missouri State Employees Retirement System will get their last bonuses this month. The annual incentives, which drew sharp criticism from Gov. Jay Nixon, are being discontinued.

But under a proposed new pay plan, the workers wouldn’t lose much money when the bonuses disappear. On July 1, when the state’s new fiscal year begins, MOSERS staffers would receive raises worth 90 percent of their average bonuses the last three years.

A compensation committee made up of MOSERS board members voted 3-1 Friday to recommend the plan. The full 11-member Board of Trustees will consider it later this month.

Gary Findlay, MOSERS executive director, said afterward that it would be incorrect to say employees would get raises under the new plan. “Actually, they’re getting a cut” since only 90 percent of their bonuses would be rolled into base pay, he said.

Only a longtime government employee, long enough to get to directorship of a government pension plan, would be audacious enough to try to convince citizens this is a cut. However, by “cutting” this money into a base pay rate, Mr. Findlay is also ensuring that this money is “cut” into base pay increases in the future (that is, the percentage increases will be greater since this 90% becomes part of the salary that the percentage increase is part of) and this money will “cut” into the amount of money used to calculate the pensions of employees (which is based on base salary when the employee retires).

The government is the only place in the world where cuts cost more money than non-cuts.

Reflections Upon The Film Striptease

As you remember, gentle reader, I read the book in 2005. When I discovered that the Demi Moore film was based upon the book, I bought it and had to watch it.

As I did, I had the following thoughts:

  • Maybe Ashton Kutcher isn’t as dumb as I thought.
  • I must buy some Annie Lennox albums. I wonder how much she spent for product placement here.
  • Robert Patrick could not have made this film and then go on to play a Terminator. Good thing he did the opposite.
  • It’s hard to capture a Carl Hiaasen book and its characters and plot in a two hour movie. The filmmakers decided to abandon most of it to fit in more Demi Moore strip routines. A good second choice.

He Doesn’t Have To Impress The Tea Party Crowd

The Republican-run Missouri legislature spent its final moment amalgamating an abomination, and quite possibly an unconstitutional abomination, that combines numerous unrelated laws into a single bill.

From childhood to the grave, nearly everything is covered in Missouri House Bill 1692, 1209, 1405, 1499, 1535 and 1811.

And no, that string of numbers is not the result of a computer malfunction.

Missouri lawmakers melded a diverse collection of ideas into a single, massive bill which they passed overwhelmingly in the final hours of their legislative session earlier this month.

The bill’s title declares that it relates to real estate. But within its 116 pages there also are provisions on child support cases, death certificates, cemeteries, divorce records, gun laws, boat engines and funding for courtroom renovations.

Republican “leaders” defend business as usual:

“Very seldom do you get a pure bill that doesn’t have something else tacked on it,” said House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

“I’ve been doing this 20 years, and it’s been happening my entire 20 years,” added Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election this year.

It was broken when I found it/got here, so I continued to break it. Thanks, guys. Keep that in mind when the Tea Party movement does not align with your interests, which is apparently preserving the status quo as long as you’re in the majority.